Identity: an infinite ocean where everyone swims. The term is used in the more varied contexts, on every media, by everyone and referring to any meaning. It’s one of those over-abused terms that end up meaning nothing. What is identity? Is it the answer to “who I am?”? Is the answer suggested by the description of “who I am not?”?
Thousands of categories are just there, waiting to be adopted, maybe just for a night, for a day, for a few years, or maybe to be rejected until the end of the world.
Than there are those categories that you just can’t get rid of. “Student”, “young”, “Indian”, “German” or “French. Those kinds of categories that don’t depend on you and that you can just accept with resignment (of course most of the people I imagine they accept it also without resignment). And to these categories usually you owe something: being still without experience if you are a student, being ingenuous if you are young, going to vote and follow national politics if you consider your nationality as a category.
Who said that I am Italian? What does it mean for me and what does it mean for other people? What does it mean to be a guitarist? What does it mean for me and what for other people?
There exist no identity without categorization and no categorization without arbitrariness. There exist no arbitrariness that is objective.
Does this mean that identity is nothing because it is not objective? Not at all. Identity is so powerful because it is something in which individuals believe so deeply to be able to die and sacrifice their life for. People fight in the name of their identity (ies) and in defense of it (them). -What is racism if not an extreme expression of defense which ends up to be pure aggression?- People pay taxes in the name of their identity, they work, they respect rules imposed by others. Sometimes, in the name of identity, people rebel against what they consider as something that is destroying or trying to squeeze their identity in borders that do not correspond to what they want.
But identity is also that feeling that makes you trust more someone similar to you, than the one who looks more different. It is also that feeling of familiarity that makes you feel comfortable and lay back, because you have everything under control, you know who is in front of you. Recognizing and categorizing, to rest our fear of the unknown.